Ongoing clashes between the Syrian army and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham [a coalition of militant groups led by Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda)] have already led to a fresh wave of speculations that government forces are on the verge of a “wide-scale” offensive in the western countryside of the city of Aleppo.
But is this true?
All interested can remember how in January 2016 various media outlets and analysts claimed that the Syrian army and its allies would rapidly and effectively deliver a series of wide-scale military operations and take control of significant areas in the provinces of Aleppo and Idlib.
SouthFront was one of few outlets clearly stated that such expectations were low possible and forecasted that the Syrian army and pro-government mlitians will need “at least a few of months” before launching new full-scale operations.
“The Syrian army has to secure areas close to the city of Aleppo to prevent militants from shelling the residential areas of the city. The Military Research Center, Mansoura, al-Rashidin 4, al-Rashidin 5 and Khan al-Assal will likely become the main targets of this operation,” SF’s analysis forecasted.
Now, we can see how the forecast becomes real. Last weekend, government troops launched an operation to take control of Rashidin 5, an urbanized area used by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham to shell the western neighborhood of the Aleppo city.
Now, the Syrian army and its allies concentrated notable resources and manpower in the western countryside of the city which allows to forecast that we will be able to observe notable offensive actions against militants in the area in March.
The mid-term goal of the Syrian military is to secure al-Rashidin 4, al-Rashidin 5 and Khan al-Assal which will allow to control the area between the Khan Tuman-Aleppo road and the M5 Highway.
The strategic goal of the opeartion in western Aleppo is to retake the key town of Khan Tuman controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. This will allow to get an important outpost to defend the southwestern flank of the Aleppo city.